Today we’re talking to Alan Johnson, candidate for Delaware Township Township Committee.
1) Why are you running, and why should people vote for you?
Alan: In my years of service to our Township I’ve been a leading advocate in the efforts to preserve farmland, protect the Township’s environmental resources, and establish several of the Delaware’s historic districts. These efforts have helped develop the positive character and sense of community that we now enjoy. I realize that planning for our Township’s future didn’t and won’t happen as an afterthought.
An elected representative of the people has to have the ability to develop consensus on these and other important matters facing Delaware Township and has to acknowledge differing opinions without viewing them as a threat. While I admit I don’t have all the answers, I do have the ability to listen to people when they’re communicating what’s important to them.
When I’ve attended recent meetings of the Township Committee, I get the impression that the Committee feels that the attendance of members of the public is almost an inconvenience to them. That attitude doesn’t foster an atmosphere for the healthy exchange of ideas. That attitude has to change and that’s why I’m running for a seat on the Delaware Township Committee.
2) What is your position on the PennEast pipeline? Are you for it, against, it neutral, or something else?
Alan: I oppose the construction of the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline for many reasons including the adverse effect on the Township’s environmental resources, the negative impact on property values and the diminishment of our quality of life to name a few.
3) What do you think your township has done right so far in dealing with the Pipeline company? And where do your think there could be improvements?
Alan: I’ll divide my response to address two areas of involvement, what the residents of the Township have done and what the Township government has done.
What Township residents have done right –
- Organized Delaware Township Citizens Against the Pipeline (DTCAP) a vibrant, knowledgeable grass roots organization that continues to provide the public and elected officials with factual information related to the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline.
- Informed residents of their legal rights regarding matters of (in many cases illegal) private property access by PennEast surveying contractors.
- Organized a citizens watchdog network to monitor incidents of illegal access by PennEast surveying contractors.
What Township residents could improve on –
- Educating residents not located in the proximity of the proposed pipeline of the negative impacts that the pipeline will have for all areas of Township.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I have received the endorsement of DTCAP in the election for a position on the Delaware Township Committee.)
What Township government has done right –
- Organizing the Pipeline Sub-Committee.
- Budgeting $15,000 to oppose the pipeline.
What Township government could improve on –
- NOT MEETING WITH PENNEAST!!!
- Improving the exchange and recording of ideas with the public at Township Committee meetings rather than limiting the content of meeting minutes.
- Being more forceful/resourceful in attempting to arrange a meeting with DEP.
4) What is your opinion on PennEast’s purpose and need? Will this be a
net-benefit to people in NJ?
- The information initially provided by PennEast regarding the numbers of homes to be served by the proposed pipeline exceeded the number of homes in the identified service area.
At a recent DTCAP PennEast pipeline meeting, the documentation of the present amount of natural gas supplied to the proposed PennEast pipeline service area was provided. It definitively showed that there is no pressing need to increase the amount natural gas supply to this area.
At the same meeting, information detailing the financial benefits to the PennEast partners was also presented. This information details the massive profits that will the made by the PennEast partners while not increasing the amount of natural gas being provided to the proposed service area.
- Based on this information, I feel that there is no positive purpose or need for the proposed PennEast pipeline that will provide no net benefit to New Jersey.
5) If you’re against the pipeline, how do you plan on fighting it going into
PennEast application period?
Alan: At this time, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has not responded to Delaware Township’s request fora face-to-face meeting to discuss the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline.
If elected, I’d first reach out to other effected municipalities to send a unified message in approaching our elected State representatives. I believe that a request to want to meet with the DEP isn’t an unreasonable request, nor is communicating our expectation that the DEP comply with their own regulations.
The stonewalling by the DEP on this issue is unacceptable.
6) What can residents do to get more involved and help?
Alan: Please refer to my answer to question # 3.
7) How can township committees help residents that worry about water safety issues, septic system worries, construction issues, traffic impacts, etc etc that are anticipated if this project is approved?
Alan: According to the PennEast application, no wells or septic systems will be impacted by the construction of the proposed pipeline. Baloney!
We can’t wait until the project is approved before we start helping our residents protect the wells and septic systems of their homes.
Delaware Township (and other effected municipalities) needs to do an inventory of wells and septic systems that will be impacted by any pipeline construction or related activities. This information then needs to be included in the Township’s intervenor submission made to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
I would advocate that the Township, along with other municipalities, contract with certified testing firms to establish base-line data regarding private wells and septic systems. A contract negotiated by the Township can be structured so that economies-of-scale cost savings can be passed on to the individual property owner who elect to test their well or septic system prior to any pipeline construction.
In regards to construction and transportation issues during construction, I respectfully defer providing an answer until I examine municipal ordinances dealing with the issues of construction projects and transportation within the Township.
8) How can townships collaborate better to fight the pipeline?
Alan: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Coordinate, coordinate, coordinate.
While municipalities are being asked to do more and more with less, the PennEast partnership exists for only one reason…to construct the pipeline. They have more money than we do and they aren’t distracted by anything else.
If we have any hope of defeating the pipeline all effected municipalities and counties (including those in Pennsylvania) must be willing to share and pool financial and technical resources.
If elected, I will immediately contact the elected officials in the effected municipalities and counties so that a coordinated course of action can be developed to stop the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline.
9) Can townships work more closely with state and federal agencies on issues such as this one?
Alan: Yes, if they act as a group. When acting alone a municipality’s voice is less likely to be acknowledged.
10) Any closing remarks
Alan: While the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline is the most important issue facing our Township it’s not the only issue. Please visit my website – GETALANELECTED.COM – for more information on my positions on other issues important to our community.